The Senators will be buyers before the March 3 NHL trade deadline, just donít expect them to be involved in the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes.
While the Senators are on a six-game win streak, GM Bryan Murray is still looking to improve and with only three weeks until the Olympic break begins, trade talk is expected to heat up as teams try to position themselves for their runs to the post-season.
If the Senators have a wish list, it would likely include another scoring forward.
That wonít be Kovalchuk because Atlantaís asking price is going to be high for a rental player with a cap hit of $6.4 million (all terms US).
The Thrashers are expected to demand established NHLers, along high-end prospects and a No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft for Kovalchuk, who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and has no intention of staying in Atlanta unless the club is willing to ante up $11 million per season.
Thatís not a direction the Senators are interested in going. Ottawa will be seeking a forward in the next tier of players available.
Right now, there arenít many teams who are sellers:
* The Senators would be interested in Carolina LW Ray Whitney, but thereís now talk he may re-sign with the Hurricanes. Itís believed the Senators like Hurricanes C Matt Cullen, who has a cap hit of $2.8 million and is being shopped by GM Jim Rutherford.
* Oilers GM Steve Tambellini is willing to move just about anybody. Naturally, W Dustin Penner would interest the Senators because they had him included in the failed Dany Heatley deal last summer, but Penner has been one the few players who has been consistent for Edmonton this season.
* The Thrashers are expected to deal RW Colby Armstrong, who is making $2.4 million. If the Senators are intersted, they wonít be alone. The Flames have been trying to acquire Armstrong for weeks, but havenít been able to get a deal done.
* Toronto GM Brian Burke wants to deal LW Alexei Ponikarovsky, C Matt Stajan and LW Niklas Hagman before the deadline, but it would be difficult for him to deal with one of Leafsí top rivals.
* Flames GM Darryl Sutter said publicly Sunday he believes in the group he has. What else is he going to say? Sutter has been trying to wheel and deal. Underachieving C Olli Jokinen is being shopped, as is C Craig Conroy. Both can become UFAs on July 1.
If the Senators are going to make a deal, the player is going to have to be affordable because the club is close to the cap and has spent a lot of money on injuries. Other than winger Jonathan Cheechoo, the Senators likely donít want to touch their roster.
NHL insiders are having a tough time predicting whether the trade market is about to get hot.
ďYouíve got three weeks to the Olympic break and I think the ideal scenario for everybody involved would be to make a deal now so that the guy can come in, play for a few weeks before the break and then be comfortable for the stretch drive,Ē said a league executive.
ďBut itís so hard to make a trade right now. Itís really, really tough. Itís difficult to say that anything is going to happen.Ē